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While (some) restaurants are evacuating Deep Ellum--East Wind Vietnamese Restaurant and the much-rumored but unconfirmed flight of Sambuca Jazz Café to the former Salve! space on McKinney Avenue--some battle-hardened mavericks armed with taps and pearl onions are actually moving in. Nick Hidi, who earned his nightclub stripes operating a spot called Lena's near Bachman Lake and the Mucky Duck in Prestonwood Mall, is poised to pound stakes in the empty Coppertank Brewing Co. space with not one but two swanky adult entertainment venues under the rubric Club Uropa. One side of the sprawling 15,000-square-foot club will feature Latin music while the other will pound techno drivel. Opening sometime in January, Uropa will have DJs plus live acts and will serve bar food on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the days of the week the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends avid nightclubbers ingest solid food. Since the brewery space was abandoned by Coppertank in October 2001, it had a short run as America's Pub, a multifaceted after-hours nightclub that sputtered in mid-2002 just months after it opened.


Does hype float the bulk of America's greatest restaurants? The Wall Street Journal thinks so. In an article last week cataloging the nation's most overrated restaurants (the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, is called "a dinner party thrown by aging hippies with a really great vegetable garden") writer Raymond Sokolov (The Cook's Canon) tosses a cow pie at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, which he describes as a "painful and pricey attempt to make a dowager hip again." Case in point: Southern chicken-fried lobster on bourbon sweet corn and barbecue broiled Yukon mashed potatoes with country braised green beans ($55), from which Sokolov says he suffered mental indigestion (chef Dean Fearing couldn't be reached for comment). But in the same gentle screed, Sokolov lauds Cowtown's Café Modern in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth as one of the most underrated restaurants in the nation, implying museum pieces may have been switched...City Café owner Paula Bruton (Lombardi Mare) says Karim Alaoui, her partner in the City Café acquisition from founder Mardi Schma, is no longer with the restaurant. Alaoui, one-time general manager of Lombardi Mare and Mediterraneo among others, departed a month ago, the same time Bruton pulled in Rick Naon as executive chef. Naon, chef at the recently shuttered Morton's of Chicago in Addison, will attempt to lure back the restaurant's core audience by returning to its meat loaf and chicken pot pie roots. "We're pretty much going back to basics, how Mardi ran it before," Bruton admits.

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